A small apartment is just what you can afford, which is just as well – you work all day and have little time to clean up your spaces. However, when you first moved in, the apartment looked quite big and you wondered how you would fill it up. Now, just a few months or years down the line, it is filled way over its capacity and you are wondering how on earth you can organise it all to retrieve some more elbow space. As the New Year spirit is still upon us, you are feeling ambitious – you want to turn that apartment around!
De-cluttering is not an easy task. Sometimes, you read good advice which just tells you to de-clutter and de-stress your life as you rid it of the superfluous. Sure – it’s superb advice, you are quite convinced it would do wonders for your lifestyle, but how to do it? How to decide what goes and what stays, and how to store whatever is left effectively? Chances are your storage options are not many since your apartment is small, and you may have furniture that is not storage-friendly.
First things first – look around your apartment on a normal day when you’re alone inside it. Clutter reigns? Start by putting things in their place. Don’t think about throwing anything away for now. Just put things in place. If some items remain unplaced, this may indicate there was never a place allotted to them or their space is taken up by something else. Have one big cardboard box at hand to stow away the ‘ I can live without these’ items which you can give away to your local charity shop, and a huge black plastic bag for garbage. Start identifying what is crying out for storage space and create grouping…
– 10 remote controls on your sofa? Assuming they all have a purpose, group them together in a little basket on the coffee table. Do they all work? Are they still valid? You may be still holding on to an old remote that belonged to the TV you gave away last Easter.
– Do you have stacks of books or magazines on the floor? Have you read them all? If you never have, chances are you never will. Give away the superfluous.
– Do kitchen utensils take over your kitchen top? Do you really need four plastic spatulas? Will you ever bake cupcakes or will that cupcake set take up space uselessly for the next decade? Are you eating off chipped plates? Perhaps it’s time you threw it all away and freed up space, by using the fine dinner-set and enjoying it for a change.
– Do you have heaps of clothing sitting around? Too much of the same? No organisation in the clothing department? Remove what you haven’t used for the past year or two and clear out.
Storage solutions that are effective and relatively easy to install include:
– Boxes – Do not disdain boxes. If you can afford to buy designer ones in raffia, leather, glossy plastic or linen, then do. Use for out-of-season clothing, woollen socks, accessories or lingerie, electronic accessories, spare wiring systems, games, stationery…… If you cannot afford fancy boxes, start out simple. Printing paper boxes for instance, are great carton quality and come equipped with lids. Ask somebody who works in a busy office to keep some aside for you. Alternatively visit your local supermarket and check out the empty boxes on their shelves. Purchase brown paper or fancy wrapping paper that tones in with your decor and cover the boxes with the help of glue. A series of these boxes will look neat sitting on top of your wardrobe, kitchen unit, or in a corner behind a door.
– Crates – For a shabby chic look, check out your local greengrocer for unwanted wooden fruit crates. These generally stack up easily on top of each other and sit neatly in kitchen corners or inside cupboards, holding food jars and tins, onions and potatoes…..
– Use files to stow away papers, bills, documents.
– Buy trolley racks, plastic or metal, to introduce inside cupboards to maximise storage space.
– Use labels where possible to help others identify and yourself remember what is where.
Good luck for the New Year project!
This article was written by Marika Azzopardi, a freelance writer and journalist. A frequent contributor to national English language papers and magazines, she writes about a bevy of topics including art, people and life in general. She is also the author of children’s books and short stories, delving into adult fiction from time to time.